Seeing Basic Instinct with my Grandparents & Other Movie Theater Milestones

I remember seeing the original Ghostbusters at a drive-in theater when I was six. My brother puked on me in the back seat.

The first ‘R’-rated movie my dad took me to was War of the Roses. It was amazing. There’s a scene where Michael Douglas jumps up on a kitchen counter top and pees in a pan cooking on a stove and it was, at that moment, the funniest thing I’d ever seen in my entire life. It sticks with me to this day. I remember thinking, ‘are all ‘R’ movies like this? No wonder adults keep these movies for themselves… If kids saw these movies we’d be peeing on the stove all the time!” I was eleven years old.

At twelve-years-old I was allowed to see my first movie without parents – just me, my friends and the wildly underrated Gremlins 2: The New Batch. There’s a moment in the movie where Gizmo goes Rambo and it’s amazing. Leaving the theater afterwards I remember how free I felt. I just saw a movie with my buddies and no parents. I picked out my own candy. I paid myself. I’m a grown-up!

When I was fourteen, in 1992, while visiting my grandparents in Florida, I convinced them to take me to see Basic Instinct without telling them anything about the movie or that I was absolutely not supposed to see it. I remember feeling like I was stealing something from the adult world as we bought the tickets for about two dollars at the Boynton Beach Cineplex. As the opening credits rolled, I was giddy. The movie hadn’t started yet but I couldn’t wait to tell my friends back home that I saw Basic Instinct with Sharon Stone naked. In the theater!

And then the movie began with a very graphic, very inappropriate-for-a-14-year-old love scene and I was stuck sandwiched between my grandparents watching it. Then, as the couple on the screen writhed in ecstasy, my grandfather turned to my grandmother and said in his I-want-the-whole-theater-to-hear-voice, “Would you look at that, Geraldine! We should have been actors!”

As other 60-something Del Boca Vista residents laughed, my head and shoulders sank through my shirt down to the floor. I almost threw up. Every frame for the rest of the two-hour movie was like a drop of Chinese water torture.

And yet I still came back to the movies.

A few months after the “Basic Instinct incident”, around Halloween in 1992, I saw my first horror movie in the theater. It scared me so much that when I got dropped off by my friend’s mom after it was over I sprinted across my driveway and into the house. I didn’t sleep that night. Not for one minute. I was also terrified to go to the bathroom because of the mirror (that’s a reference to the movie, Candyman. Just don’t say his name three times in a mirror, O.K.?).

My first date movie with a girl was the summer after my sophomore year in high school in 1994. I honestly don’t remember if the movie was Forrest Gump or The Lion King, but it was definitely one of those. Or both. The girl I was with made a mix tape for me from the Forrest Gump soundtrack. My friends and I spent the rest of the summer doing Forrest Gump and Bubba impressions and making up foods that involve shrimp… Shrimp milk shakes, shrimp Gatorade, shrimp pudding…

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective came out in 1994 and was the first time my last name appeared in a mainstream movie and taunts of Finkel is Einhorn / Einhorn is Finkel have followed me ever since. Yes, I’ve seen the movie. That’s the one question I never understand when people hear my last name… Have you ever seen Ace Ventura? Of course I have. Were there high school kids in the 90s who didn’t’? Alllllllllllllllllllrighty, then.

I didn’t have as much time to go see movies in the theater in college for a variety of reasons and none of them had to do with my classwork. I remember seeing Good Will Hunting and Varsity Blues and Fight Club, but most of my movie memories in college center around either “borrowing” movies from the guy in our fraternity who had about 150 VHS tapes OR watching Tommy Boy and Billy Madison for the thousandth time.

Post-college I moved to Los Angeles and I basically saw every movie that came out. I was single, broke, working for Comedy Central and trying to be a writer. Movies do two crucial things for guys at that time in their lives: 1) they kill time and 2) they don’t cost much. Two $.99 bean and cheese burritos from Taco Bell, a $.49 bag of Mike & Ike’s and a movie ticket used to cost about $14 and that’s about as good of a bargain for entertainment and food as a production assistant on the Man Show can expect on a weeknight in 2001.

My wife found out she was pregnant with our daughter after we went to see The Social Network, but we waited nine months to post it on the Facebook.

My daughter’s first movie in the theater was the first Paddington Bear film and she lasted nine minutes. My son’s first movie was The Good Dinosaur and he got sick halfway through. The first movie the four of us sat through together without incident was Lego Batman. The second one was Jumanji because even little kids are mesmerized by The Rock.

There aren’t too many movie ‘firsts’ left for me at this point… Guess I’ll just have to wait until my six-year-old’s future teenager convinces me to see Sharon Stone’s daughter in Basic Instinct 4 in about thirty years. I only hope I can come up with a punch line as good as my grandfather’s.

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